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Author Topic: My awesome experience tracking and mixing with hearing loss  (Read 3175 times)

endorphin

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My awesome experience tracking and mixing with hearing loss
« on: January 14, 2016, 02:53:33 pm »

Yes it's true, I have moderate to severe hearing loss, but love the process of tracking and mixing.  Both from a brain tumor and a childhood head injury, not to mention years of playing in bands.

Am I depressed about it?  No, not at all, in fact it's quite the opposite.  I just have to track and mix in a confident manner, which translates to "does it sound good?"  This past year we've had two tracks make it to billboard in the smooth jazz from our studio.  One made the top ten. 

The purpose of writing this is for others who suffer from hearing loss can express their experience in a positive manner behind my post.  Basically, I can hear to 4Khz in my left hear and up to 15Khz in my right, and have notched hearing loss in both.  My brain uses the information in my right ear to translate to my left, if that makes any sense.  My tumor is called an Acoustic Neuroma and has been treated using Gamma Knife radiation, and I may go deaf in my right ear, but only time will tell. 

Here are some techniques I use while mixing to help offset any hearing deficiencies:
- I use reference tracks similar to the song I'm mixing and use visual aids to be sure my higher frequencies are in check
- Using headphones and switch from side to side
- Mix in mono using either both monitors in mono or a single mono speaker centered on my console.  This helps tremendously as the mid range frequencies are crucial to a good mix, then the lower and higher frequencies come back in to play when switched to stereo using my main monitors
- Leave the room and listen outside the doorway.  This is really good if you have any hearing issues because it basically is a mono signal that can be used to evaluate your mix away from the monitor position
- Ask someone with a good ear their opinion of the mix

Does anybody have techniques that may be helpful?
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Weekend Warrior
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Jim Williams

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Re: My awesome experience tracking and mixing with hearing loss
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2016, 11:52:31 am »

Yes, mix with a full bandwidth partner. Then they can catch what you miss.
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Fletcher

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Re: My awesome experience tracking and mixing with hearing loss
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2016, 12:52:32 pm »

At the end of the day -- so long as the mix "feels good", and the instrument balances aren't all over the place, and its not dripping with artificial reverb [unless that's an "atmospheric" thing you're going for] -- its all good.  If the client is happy, then its a good mix... if the client wants something tweezed... then you tweeze it. 

Unless you're one of the overpaid "hit makers" who have to compress everything into a flat line in order to win their next Grammy -- its music, have fun with it. 

Peace
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

endorphin

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Re: My awesome experience tracking and mixing with hearing loss
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2016, 02:41:44 pm »

Yes, mix with a full bandwidth partner. Then they can catch what you miss.

Thank you Jim.  We live in a very rural area, so finding someone who can help me with this is tough to find.  However, I have not considered actually going through a mix with someone else.  I was thinking to bring them in at the end and evaluate my mix.  So your suggestion is well taken.  I would probably feel most comfortable bringing them in after the foundation of the track is set up and I'm in the final mix stage.
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Weekend Warrior
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endorphin

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Re: My awesome experience tracking and mixing with hearing loss
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2016, 02:58:19 pm »

At the end of the day -- so long as the mix "feels good", and the instrument balances aren't all over the place, and its not dripping with artificial reverb [unless that's an "atmospheric" thing you're going for] -- its all good.  If the client is happy, then its a good mix... if the client wants something tweezed... then you tweeze it. 

Unless you're one of the overpaid "hit makers" who have to compress everything into a flat line in order to win their next Grammy -- its music, have fun with it. 

Peace

Thank you Fletcher.  We have a lot of fun doing this.  My wife and I own the studio, but she's not heavily involved with the mix process, but we have a blast just the same.  I am definitely not an overpaid "hit maker" at all, just a southern country boy who loves music!  We've enjoyed a lot of success and my mixes are generally pretty good, but by no means do I think we're something we're not.  I am both and Electrical and Mechanical Engineer by degree, so that's my day job.  One thing that has humbled me through the years is the learning curve.  Knowing how to properly track and mix are by far the most difficult of learning curves I've encountered.  Not because of hearing loss, but my eventual  understanding that I didn't know what I was doing when I thought I really did.  EE and ME were much easier and came more natural than properly recording and mixing a track.  I am probably not alone in this!  For someone to be good at tracking and mixing, they have to know they sucked first!  Then they put on the big boy pants, humble themselves, swallow their pride a time or two and then begin to properly learn.  At least, that has been my experience.
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Weekend Warrior
20+ Years and Self Taught, therefore , I go around my back to scratch my elbow....
www.scovillerecording.com

Fletcher

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Re: My awesome experience tracking and mixing with hearing loss
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2016, 09:45:59 am »

FWIW, I found its all about never being satisfied with your work... always hearing how you could have done this differently or that differently or searching for this texture or that texture in an effort to enhance the musical statement.  That's my own personal struggle, as I'm not the client... and so long as the client is pleased, I smile, take their money, and hope I'll do better next time out.

Funny thing happened recently -- I've been doing some "home renovation" and found a box that had an album in it I'd recorded / mixed / produced about 15 years ago.  For shits and giggles I threw it into the CD player while I was staining the trim on some new windows and doors -- listened to the album like 3 times in a row -- I was seriously amused that after a decade and a half of distance from the project, I actually liked the work I did on it [I remember thinking it was a complete turd when I'd finished it, which was why I hadn't listened to it since its release].

My point being -- strive for better -- but don't beat yourself up too bad --- chances are, with a little time and space, you're going to find out you're better than you think you are!

Peace
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

jaykadis

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Re: My awesome experience tracking and mixing with hearing loss
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2016, 01:06:09 pm »

I've had the same experience as Fletcher - listening to an old project I thought sucked only to find out it was actually much better than I thought.  The great thing about recording is that you can continue to learn your whole life.

endorphin

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Re: My awesome experience tracking and mixing with hearing loss
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2016, 08:30:18 am »

I wish I could say that about my old mixes!  I remember buying the book "Mixing Engineer's Handbook" by Owsinsky, now that was an eye opener.  It was like reading a history book after being exiled on an Island for years.  That was the beginning of my understanding of mixing.  This is after 10 years of owning my studio!  So when I say that was my experience finding out I really was ignorant on how to mix, it's not intended at anyone else, just simply my experience.  I'm interested to know if you guys knew about high pass filtering, how to calculate delay times and that sort when you hear your old mixes.  I knew nothing about those things, so my old mixes are muddy and culttered with little to no stereo field.  Thank you all for posts on these forums!  I've learned so much of what to do and not do!

John
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Weekend Warrior
20+ Years and Self Taught, therefore , I go around my back to scratch my elbow....
www.scovillerecording.com

Fletcher

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Re: My awesome experience tracking and mixing with hearing loss
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2016, 07:19:41 am »

Actually John, yeah - I did know about hi-pass filters, and timed delays, and how to give each instrument its own "space".  I don't know the time period you came up in, but I came up during the time when the "apprentice" system was in full force.  You'd get a gig as a "general assistant", and then after a while when you could prove to management that you could "pay attention to detail" on mundane things like lunch orders and general cleaning assignments... you might be allowed near a control room.

After you'd proven that you knew and understood "protocol", after you'd continued to prove you could pay attention to detail, and after you'd made it crystal clear that you were smart enough to learn things that were taught to you the first time -- then you might start to get put on sessions as an assistant.  After a period of assisting -- while continuing to prove your ability to pay attention to detail [which at that point included "detailed session notes"!!!!!], you might get a chance to sit in the chair if an engineer didn't show, or the facility had a shit paying gig with a "baby band" that couldn't afford one of the "actual engineers" [etc.]... at which point you often had the ability to book "downtime" and start to develop your chops independently while learning how to sell your services.

While growing up learning from actual engineers making real records that you could actually hear on the radio -- we learned all about the theory of how sounds blend,  the theory behind how the equipment worked -- what each knob actually did -- and how to get through the day turning the fewest knobs possible.

It was an educational experience that doesn't get repeated these days... which in many ways is a sad thing.

Peace
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

endorphin

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Re: My awesome experience tracking and mixing with hearing loss
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2016, 04:24:23 pm »

Fletcher, great info on your background!  That certainly is not where I cam from, I was a farmer in the stix here in Eastern Virginia when I started in music!

I started with ADAT's and slowly grew once I understood mixing and gear a little better.  My first 10 years were simply messing around.  My first pro CD was made about 5 years ago, so I had a 15 year base behind me, again I was self taught, so the learning curve was painful in the least.

Good news on my hearing this week.  My hearing test came back a little better than before the brain tumor was irradiated, which is a rare but positive sign.  Now I'm gonna buy a Drawmer 1978 in celebration! 

Take care and thanks for all the information you freely give!

John
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Weekend Warrior
20+ Years and Self Taught, therefore , I go around my back to scratch my elbow....
www.scovillerecording.com

Fletcher

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Re: My awesome experience tracking and mixing with hearing loss
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2016, 06:02:42 pm »

Congratulations on the good news!!!!!!!  I hope your recovery continues, and you're having big fun making records!!

Peace
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

duskb

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Re: My awesome experience tracking and mixing with hearing loss
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2016, 10:53:37 am »

Funny thing happened recently -- I've been doing some "home renovation" and found a box that had an album in it I'd recorded / mixed / produced about 15 years ago.  For shits and giggles I threw it into the CD player while I was staining the trim on some new windows and doors -- listened to the album like 3 times in a row -- I was seriously amused that after a decade and a half of distance from the project, I actually liked the work I did on it [I remember thinking it was a complete turd when I'd finished it, which was why I hadn't listened to it since its release].

This happened to me last week while teaching a class. I was explaining some of the presets on the H3000 and I pulled out a mix of something I recorded a decade or so ago because it was easier to show what I did than try to explain it. Hearing it back nearly brought me to tears. I didn't think the record was bad at the time but because I had to record to a digi002 I always thought less of it.

It's one thing for someone else's work to get me all emotional, however, I never expected that would be the case with my own work.

Time will tell.
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Jim Williams

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Re: My awesome experience tracking and mixing with hearing loss
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2016, 11:07:39 am »

Last summer I found a stack of old digitized files. It was a 5 song demo I did back in 1982 with some friends.

Recorded on modified Tascam 8 tracks, this stuff sounds great. I re-mixed it and presented to everyone involoved, boy were they suprized.

I used my Soundcraft Delta console, BurrBrown PCM4222 ADC and my Bricasti M7 reverb. I didn't need to use any compression, even though it was a rock mix. Guess I tracked it pretty good with my old home made studio, effects, opto comps and console. Back then I built everything as I couldn't afford pro recording gear.

One of the tunes is a cover/finished version of Dwayne Alman's unfinished song "Happily Marride Man". Yes, I got to do all the solos and guitar parts too.
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JSantos

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Re: My awesome experience tracking and mixing with hearing loss
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2016, 10:29:58 am »

Man, I admire your passion. But your discipline is excellent indeed. Despite your hearing loss, if the material is really good, that's all there is to it.

Would love to hear some samples. I'm very interested. :)
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